Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Mind-blowing' cows hold clue to beating HIV

Cow close upImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Cows have shown an "insane" and "mind-blowing" ability to tackle HIV which will help develop a vaccine, say US researchers.
In a first for immunisation, the animals rapidly produced special types of antibody that can neutralise HIV.
It is thought cows evolved a supreme immune defence due to their complex and bacteria-packed digestive system.
The US National Institutes of Health said the findings were of "great interest".
HIV is a slippery and nefarious opponent. It mutates so readily that every time a patient's immune system finds a way of attacking the virus, HIV shifts its appearance.
However, a small proportion of patients eventually develop "broadly neutralising antibodies" after years of infection. These attack parts the virus cannot change.
A vaccine that could train the immune system to make broadly neutralising antibodies should help prevent people being infected in the first place.
But no jab can do the job.


Then researchers at the International Aids Vaccine Initiative and the Scripps Research Institute tried immunising cows.
"The response blew our minds," Dr Devin Sok, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website.
The required antibodies were being produced by the cow's immune system in a matter of weeks.
Dr Sok added: "It was just insane how good it looked, in humans it takes three-to-five years to develop the antibodies we're talking about.
"This is really important because we hadn't been able to do it period.
"Who would have thought cow biology was making a significant contribution to HIV."


The results, published in the journal Nature, showed the cow's antibodies could neutralise 20% of HIV strains within 42 days.
By 381 days, they could neutralise 96% of strains tested in the lab.
Dr Dennis Burton, a fellow researcher, said: "The potent responses in this study are remarkable.
"Unlike human antibodies, cattle antibodies are more likely to bear unique features and gain an edge over HIV."
Unusually for human antibodies, the broadly neutralising ones have a long and loopy structure. Cow antibodies are inherently more long and loopy.
So the cow immune system finds making the antibodies easily.
It is thought the cow's "ruminant" digestive system which ferments grass in order to digest it is a Wild West of hostile bacteria. So the animals have developed the antibodies needed to keep them in check.
It means cattle could eventually become a source of drugs to make more effective vaginal microbicides to prevent HIV infection.
However, the real goal is to develop a vaccine that encourages the human immune system to make the antibodies it currently finds a struggle.
That remains a significant challenge, but the cattle study could help point the way.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: "From the early days of the epidemic, we have recognized that HIV is very good at evading immunity, so exceptional immune systems that naturally produce broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV are of great interest - whether they belong to humans or cattle."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Object teleported from Earth to Orbit for the first time

PublishedJul 12, 2017, 9:59 am IST
UpdatedJul 12, 2017, 9:59 am IST
The object-in-question is a photon, which travelled from Gobi desert to a satellite called ‘Micius’ orbiting 500 kilometres in total.
‘Micius’ is described to be a highly sensitive photo receiver that is equipped with the ability to detect quantum states of single photons launched from the ground.  (Representational image)
 ‘Micius’ is described to be a highly sensitive photo receiver that is equipped with the ability to detect quantum states of single photons launched from the ground. (Representational image)
Researchers from China have successfully teleported an object from Earth to the Orbit. The object-in-question is a photon, which travelled from Gobi desert to a satellite called ‘Micius’ orbiting five hundred kilometres in total. This is believed to be an important step towards establishing a global-scale quantum internet.
Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford University Ian Walmsley tells the World At One how quantum entanglement works and how teleportation could be utilised. He explained that such a deed is achievable through a process called ‘Quantum Entanglement,’ wherein two particles react as one with no physical connection between them.
‘Micius’ is described to be a highly sensitive photoreceiver that is equipped with the ability to detect quantum states of single photons launched from the ground. The aforementioned satellite was developed with the aim to enable scientists to carry out tests that involved quantum entanglement, cryptography and teleportation. “Long-distance teleportation has been recognized as a fundamental element in protocols such as large-scale quantum networks and distributed quantum computation,” says the Chinese team to MIT Technology Review. “Previous teleportation experiments between distant locations were limited to a distance on the order of 100 kilometres, due to photon loss in optical fibres or terrestrial free-space channels.”
At first, the research team created entangled pairs of photons at the rate of 4,000 per second on Earth. Following which, they attempted at teleporting one out of the many pairs of entangled photons to the satellite. Meanwhile, the others remained on Earth. Finally, the researchers measured the photons both on the ground and the orbit and confirmed that teleportation was taking place. “This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite uplink for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward the global-scale quantum internet,” says the team.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe

The internet has matured into a world of its own, and like the real world, it obeys certain immutable laws. Here are 10 of the most important.

The Shepard Fairey Barack Obama image with added swastika and Hitler moustache. Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe
Godwin's Law in action Photo: AP - SHEPARD FAIREY
Any internet user will know that the web, like the outside world (or “meatspace”), follows certain rules.
We take a look at 10, with the most well-known and widely used towards the top and some of the lesser lights lower down. If you know any more, let us know below.
Equally, of course, if you have formulated one yourself, do likewise – but you might want to include your real name, not just a web pseudonym. Otherwise it will be known forever as Gherkin555’s Law, or whatever, and you will miss your shot at posterity.
We should state that we are not endorsing these laws or the views they imply, merely reporting them.
1. Godwin’s Law
The most famous of all the internet laws, formed by Mike Godwin in 1990. As originally stated, it said: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." It has now been expanded to include all web discussions.
It is closely related to the logical fallacy “reductio ad Hitlerum”, which says “Hitler (or the Nazis) liked X, so X is bad”, frequently used to denigrate vegetarians and atheists.
Common Godwin's Law appearances include describing women's rights campaigners as “feminazis”, comparing the former US President George W Bush to Hitler, or saying Barack Obama's proposed healthcare reforms are the new Holocaust.
In its broader sense it can be used to describe any situation where a poster loses all sense of proportion, for example describing New Labour as “Zanu-Labour” after Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean political party Zanu-PF.
As well as the descriptive form, it can be used prescriptively: so if any poster does mention the Nazis in a discussion thread, Godwin’s Law can be invoked, they instantly lose the argument and the thread can be ended.
If this is done deliberately to end the argument, however, it does not apply. This codicil is known as “Quirk’s Exception”.
2. Poe’s Law
Not to be confused with the law of poetry enshrined by Edgar Allan Poe, the internet Poe’s Law states: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing.”
It was originally formulated by Nathan Poe in 2005 during a debate on about evolution, and referred to creationism rather than all fundamentalism, but has since been expanded.
Poe’s Law also has an inverse meaning, stating that non-fundamentalists will often mistake sincere expressions of fundamentalist beliefs for parody.
Examples abound – one particularly difficult-to-judge site claims that “Heliocentrism [the belief that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than the other way around] is an Atheist Doctrine”.
One that must, surely, be a parody is (WARNING: link contains adult material), a site that offers Christians advice on the rights and wrongs of such activities as threesomes and pubic shaving, among much more.
However, it is hard to be entirely certain, given the existence of (WARNING: link contains adult material), an apparently entirely serious site.
Here is an example of a parody site that embodies both Godwin's and Poe's Laws.
3. Rule 34
States: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” See also Rule 35: “If no such porn exists, it will be made.” Generally held to refer to fictional characters and cartoons, although some formulations insist there are "no exceptions" even for abstract ideas like non-Euclidean geometry, or puzzlement.
For obvious reasons it is not appropriate for lengthy discussion in a family newspaper, but the recent appearance of Marge Simpson on the cover of Playboy, pictured above, was a (very mild) example of the law in action, and going mainstream.
The spread of fanficslash fiction and hentai around the internet, as well as the rise of furries, are making this law more and more accurate every day.
The other 33 rules change frequently, except one and two, which are “Do not talk about /b/” and “Do NOT talk about /b/”, respectively, referring to a message board on the website.
4. Skitt’s Law 
Expressed as "any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself" or "the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster."
It is an online version of the proofreading truism Muphry’s Law, also known as Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation: "any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror".
Language Log quotes the following example, from Paul Ordoveza’s How Now, Brownpau? blog:
"For too long, we linguistic pedants have cringed, watching this phrase used, misused, and abused, again, and again, and again. 'This begs the question...' [we hear], and we must brace ourselves as the ignoramii of modern society literally ask a question after the phrase."
While Mr Ordoveza’s point is entirely valid (“begging the question” is a logical fallacy, meaning to "beggar the question", or assume your conclusion in your premise – not to raise the question), the plural of ignoramus is ignoramuses.
It was apparently first stated by G Bryan Lord, referring to a user named Skitt, on Usenet in 1998.
5. Scopie’s Law
States: “In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing as a credible source loses the argument immediately, and gets you laughed out of the room.” First formulated by Rich Scopie on the forum.
This law makes little sense without a background knowledge of, a conspiracy theory site which includes such items as the complete text of the anti-Semitic hoax Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as claims that Aids is caused by vaccination programmes, and that Auschwitz never happened.
It has been expanded by posters on to include any use of Answers in Genesis in an argument about creationism and evolution.
6. Danth’s Law (also known as Parker’s Law)
States: “If you have to insist that you've won an internet argument, you've probably lost badly.” Named after a user on the role-playing gamers’ forum
Danth’s Law was most famously declared in “The Lenski Affair”, between microbiologist Richard Lenski and the editor of, Andrew Schlafly, who cast doubt upon Prof Lenski’s elegant experimental demonstration of evolution.
After what is widely held to be one of the greatest and most comprehensive put-downs in scientific argument from Prof Lenski, Mr Schlafly declared himself the winner.
7. Pommer’s Law
Proposed by Rob Pommer on in 2007, this states: “A person's mind can be changed by reading information on the internet. The nature of this change will be from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.”
8. DeMyer's Laws
Named for Ken DeMyer, a moderator on There are four: the Zeroth, First, Second and Third Laws.
The Second Law states: “Anyone who posts an argument on the internet which is largely quotations can be very safely ignored, and is deemed to have lost the argument before it has begun.”
The Zeroth, First and Third Laws cannot be very generally applied and will be glossed over here.
9. Cohen’s Law
Proposed by Brian Cohen in 2007, states that: “Whoever resorts to the argument that ‘whoever resorts to the argument that... …has automatically lost the debate’ has automatically lost the debate.”
Has also been stated in the much longer version, "Whoever resorts to the argument that 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that ... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' has automatically lost the debate."
10. The Law of Exclamation
First recorded in an article by Lori Robertson at in 2008, this states: "The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters."
It is reminiscent of the claim in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels that the more exclamation marks someone uses in writing, the more likely they are to be mentally unbalanced.
According to Pratchett, five exclamation marks is an indicator of "someone who wears their underwear on the outside".

Anti-gravity treadmill reduces load on knee joints, may boost recovery post surgery

A new anti-gravity treadmill helps to walk or run without the full weight of the body, thus reducing load on knee joints. Experts say it will help people recuperate after knee operations.

FITNESS Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:44 IST
Knee surgery recovery
The air pressure in the treadmill can be adjusted to take the patient from 100% of their body weight to only 20%, the same feeling as walking on the moon.(Shutterstock)
Using space-age technology, a British scientist has developed an anti-gravity treadmill that can help people reduce their fears of re-injury as well as boost their confidence after knee operations.
The anti-gravity treadmill could provide a great environment for healing and help restore the belief that injured people could make a successful return to any sport they love, said Karen Hambly, senior lecturer at the University of Kent and an international expert on knee rehabilitation.
When people run, the load on their knee joints could be up to five times greater than when walking. Healthy cartilage that covers the bone surfaces in the knee joint transfers these high loads from the lower leg to the upper leg. However, the anti-gravity treadmill can help walking or running without the full weight of the body, while reducing the load on the joints in the lower limbs and bridging the gap between rehabilitation and return to sport, the research showed.

The air pressure in the treadmill could be adjusted to take the patient from 100% of their body weight to only 20%, the same feeling as walking on the moon, and reducing the impact and pressure on joints during the run.
In the study, published in the journal Physical Therapy in Sport, the expert on knee rehabilitation, highlighted the journey of a 39-year-old female endurance runner.
Post her knee surgery, she took an eight-week rehabilitation on the anti-gravity treadmill to take part in her sport again. The anti-gravity treadmill helped in an improved knee and rehabilitation of self-efficacy and subjective knee function.
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